The goal of a grassroots organization is to get students excited about STEM careers. The “I Will” Mentoring Foundation aims to expose as many kids as possible to robotics, engineering, coding and more.
Throwing a drill isn’t what most kids would do after school, but London Daniels does. She will transform a piece of metal into a real robot.
“Most of the girls that are in my class are usually into sports and stuff, so yeah, it’s a little bit different,” said London Daniels, an 8th grader at Crestwell School in south Fort Myers.
Doctor Jesse Bryson says it’s a good kind of different. He is the founder and CEO of the “I Will” Mentoring Foundation. It is designed to expose children, especially minorities, to STEM programs outside of the classroom. “Our community in general specifically needed to be able to have a skill set other than athletics as a way, as a way for them to become productive citizens. We need alternatives because we must include all children. Not all young people are good at sports, but every child has the ability to think and be creative,” Bryson said.
Kids have plenty of space to do so at the “I Will” Mentoring Foundation office at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center. There, there are science, computer, and robotics labs where kids can get a taste of all things STEM.
“I’ve been interested in robotics since I was little because I love the creative aspect,” said Kevin Augutis, a sophomore at Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School. “I think it’s unique to have the chance to be here and really explore my passions.”
“As they start learning electronics, start doing pneumatics, and we do site visits, you start to see their minds really expand,” Bryson said. They broaden the mind and discover talents. “It gives me more options to choose and be good at something,” Daniels said.
The students who built the robot with the help of the “I Will” Mentoring Foundation did more than just learn about the world of STEM, they built a robot that beat student robots across the state. They are now preparing for the first world robotics championships.
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